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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, February 4, 2019
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with Matè Espina

An artsy weekend

Rock & Refuge

My friends would sometimes taunt me that I have an almost zero social life up until recently when I found myself hopping from one event to another – and all because the world of arts beckoned.

It started with a drive to Bago City Friday that hosted the opening of the Arts Month celebration. Toks Lopez and I made sure we wouldn’t miss the photo exhibit of our friend, Ronnie Baldonado, lest he would boycott our rare photo sessions that have graced our Facebook pages.

Ronnie who hails from Bago City showcased 25 of his works that featured festivals, landmarks and people that his lens have captured through the years. This is ongoing at the Balayni Tan Juan Museum which is altogether another treat for art lovers.

Next stop was the performance of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at the government center along with Toks still (who watched it for second time), Lulu Abelido and son, Niko. Thankfully, the cool breeze made that outdoor performance a heavenly experience and an apt opening for our BacoLaodiat Festival.

Mayor Bing Leonardia and the rest of the city officials deserve our congratulations for the effort of bringing the PPO here and hopefully this will become an annual offering to our people, who surprisingly stayed on and cheered the orchestra that indulged the crowd with an encore.

The first part started with the more popular tunes from musicals like Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserablesand VST and Company under the baton of resident conductor, HermieRanera.

The hit songs from VST brought some of our city officials to their feet to dance which I honestly felt was a bit inappropriate as it drew the attention of the crowd to the dancing than to the performance on stage. But since it was outdoors, I guess anything goes.

Mayor Bing thanked a lot of sponsors from the businessmen who ferried in the instruments of the orchestra, hotel owners who provided lodging for the more than 70 members of the PPO, the BacoLaodiat organizers who took care of other needs and of course a huge thanks to CCP President Nick Lizaso who waived the PPO fee and took care of the airfare by including Bacolod as part of its outreach concert series.

The classical pieces came next and it was equally entertaining to watch Maestro Yoshikazu Fukumura who took the helm during the second half of the performance. My favourite part was the music from My Fair Lady and it was blissful to say the least. It was an event where everyone went home with smiles on their faces and my personal thanks to all who made that evening of music possible.

We had a light moment with Maestro Fukumura before the show after he was introduced to us by Eugene De los Santos, the program director of PPO who happens to be a close friend of my sisters, Anne and Nenen.

Fukumura’s visit, as he told us, will always be equated by his love for the chicken inasal and as Eugene warned, better meet him before the show as he is bound to disappear immediately to look for his inasal.

My last stop was the opening of Charlie Co’s 30,000 HRS exhibit in celebration of his 20 th year as a very successful visual artist at the new gallery, Orange Project inside the Art District in Mandalagan Saturday.

As titled, the works are products of 30,000 hours spent on his art, working 5 hours a day, that showed various events that happened around the globe, his experiences and his views on social and political upheavals here and elsewhere.

Among his most recent works that captured our interest is his interpretation of that one-on-one interview between Senators Bongbong Marcos and Juan Ponce Enrile that gave rise to indignation of their pathetic attempt to distort what transpired during Martial Law days.

Interesting too are the video documentation of how Charlie transferred his studies to canvases measuring over 20 x 8 feet entitled “My New York State of Mind” and “Tiananmen-Men: New People’s Army.”

It was also fascinating to listen to the commentaries of my son Giancarlo, who came with his friends, newly-married couple Gito and Rubi Bapla, and Ricky Jalandoni on their first take of Charlie’s works.

But more than that, Charlie is known for his big heart, mentoring members of the art community here and helping those whom he knows has a potential to make it big. He is also one guy you can use as an argument to your parents who would say, there is no money in art. Charlie dispels that myth and he is one who readily shares it with others.*

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